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barbershop_the_next_cut.jpgBARBERSHOP – THE NEXT CUT (USA 2016) **
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee

Starring: Ice Cube, Regina Hall, Anthony Anderson, Cedric the Entertainer, JB Smoove, Common, Nicki Minaj, Sean Patrick Thomas

Review by Gilbert Seah

The fourth instalment of the BARBERSHOP films (counting the spin-off BEAUTY SHOP) has Calvin’s Barbershop in South side Chicago doing their usual shenanigans. Calvin’s Barbershop is owned by Calvin (Ice Cube), of course with his partner Angie (Regina Hall).

This time around, the all male barbershop has incorporated female hairdressers as well. This gives the script an excess to lots of verbal battle of the sexes – all mediated of course by Calvin. The ensemble cast has lots of comedic material here to show their stuff.

As there are many characters in the film, the film includes several parallel stories in the plot, all of seemingly equal importance.
The main one involves Calvin relationship with his coming-of-age son.

Calvin’s son is about to join a gang, obviously not realizing how fortunate he is tom have his parent’s love and care. Another tied-on plot addresses the violence of Chicago. Too many kids are killed everyday due to gang related crimes. The barbershop decides to do something about it by offering free weekend haircuts to create a ceasefire. Other subplots involve Rashad (Common) fooling around with Draya (Nicki Minaj) under the eyes of his suspicious wife. Calvin is also in the process of buying property north and to move his barbershop to a safer place. All these plots are loosely tied together and are intercut as if the director is a traffic cop.

The blend of drama and comedy does not mix well. Ice Cube appears to be in Tyler Perry mode, being too preachy and trying to be goody-two-shoes in the African American community.

It takes a full third of the film to get its footing. The first third clumsily re-introduces all the characters of the barbershop, most of whom the audience have forgotten as the last barbershop film was made about 10 years back. The last part gets too sentimental and preachy and all the good intentions appear a bit too much.

But the film contains a few good comedic set ups. When the film just lets the actors loose and do their thing, it generates the most laughs. One is Nicki Minaj shaking and showing off her booty. The bit where all the employees in the barbershop break out into an impromptu dance is extremely well done with Common stealing the show with his break-dancing. Cedric the Entertainer is always very funny and is the funniest barber in the shop. Ice Cube proves again he can do both serious and comedy.

But the film should cater more to African Americans. For others, the accent is a bit difficult to follow and a few jokes will go above the heads on non-black audiences. But BARBERSHOP fans should not be disappointed with this entry. The film is tagged to be number two this weekend following THE JUNGLE BOOK.


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